Sports fans from across the province have enjoyed the return of the NHL with an all Canadian Northern Division and despite not being able to go to the arena, it's boosted spirits.

Steve Smith of Steinbach is an avid sports fan and he welcomed the return of the Winnipeg Jets. "It's just a bit of normalcy," Smith says. "Back in the fall, there were sports programs that had no sports to talk about. So now, to get Jets into a rotation and adding in the Bombers signings, it's neat that we're getting back into a sense of normalcy. It's a big thing."

Smith adds that the return to sports can help ease the mental health burden. "I know in the spring, people had things to do. They could accomplish things. But having a Jets game to look forward to, it's like, at 6:00, we know what we're doing."

Having the family gather around to enjoy sports is also something Smith is happy to have back. "The kids were pretty pumped. I know my son was right into the (NFL) game, he was up and yelling at the TV. Guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree there. My son and daughter both love going to Pistons games and they miss it. He watched the Pistons on Youtube, that was his way of coping."

For the Smith family, it's not just missing sports but it's missing being a Pistons billet. Something Steve and his family have done for 7 years now for the local MJHL team.

He says s not having MJHL hockey is devastating on a few different levels. "It's been a void. Last year when the season was cancelled, it was so abrupt, the guys were pretty emotional. For us, we miss the road trips. Going to Portage, Selkirk or to Virden, where I grew up, it's a void. It's something you really miss because it's part of routine. The thing is and it dawned on me when college football players wanted to play, it's because it's their future. There's more to it than a game, they have their whole lives ahead of them."

The belief is there for Smith that the MJHL may get back onto the ice soon. "I think it will. It may look a bit different but that's the hope."


Written by Dave Anthony